Cari Tuna from the WSJ published an article on April 3rd (“Some Employers See Hiring Opportunity” which got me thinking and opened up a number of questions.

Cari references numerous companies that are being “overwhelmed” with applicants responding to job openings – a company that once had to stand in front of a mall and hand out applications to attract candidates now has over 1000 applicants for 100 openings – another drew over 4,000 applicants for 80 positions at a new facility. We have all seen and heard stories like this.

First question – is leadership taking notice? Are people recognizing that this is a buyer’s market? This does not mean you need to make an immediate purchase – but you should be building your network and defining the ways to sustain this network (how you will remain connected to these people over the longer term). Relationship building is key. And NOW is the time to do it.

Remember 12 months ago when you couldn’t find a candidate to speak with? When candidates where in hiding and good people could not be found? The 900 people that the company in Florida did not hire – what happens to them? Let’s assume there are a good number that are overqualified and others that are not the right fit – let’s say there are 150 candidates that are qualified – what happens with these people?

Invest in the future of your recruitment. This is a great opportunity to save time and exorbitant fees in the future. Build a network around these candidates – find ways to communicate with them regularly. Over time the network will increase in size and “quality” and during your next hiring cycle you turn to these folks first.

Contingency agencies are doing this now. They are gathering people, generating names, building relationships and expanding their network – all so that they can generate large fees in the upturn. Sure – when you are ready to hire, the contingency firms will have great candidates delivered to your doorstep —all yours for a fee of 25%.

Building out your Talent Reserve® can be done cheaper and more effectively. Not only can you accumulate your own database of A-Level talent that you’d love to have join your company sometime in the future, but you also have the opportunity to begin building a relationship with them. The goal is to get this top talent to have a desire to work at your company. Building an allegiance right now is the perfect time. When they hold all the cards (and I assure you, we will be back to a “candidate’s market”) if you have already invested the time and energy in developing a relationship with them, you will be ahead of their other suitors.